Ethiopian singer Haile Roots just released his first album of Amharic-language reggae called Chiggae (indicating a mix of the Ethiopian 6/8 time rhythm called “chikchika” and reggae). Arefe, of the always informative Addis Journal, wrote a post announcing the release today.
I know this record has been a long time coming…I heard of and heard Haile Roots in 2006, when I first started research into other Ethiopians doing the reggae thing. The music by the man otherwise known as Hailemichael Genet is good–though it still maintains the synthy sound emblematic of Amharic pop. This might turn off some roots reggae puritans, but it really shouldn’t. As regards the single “Mela Enimita”, I suggest that folks listen to the whole song–after all, you get to hear Luciano and Mikey General on the track too. Luciano’s vocals are terrific, and the chorus is pretty great. The video combines footage of Addis with some bits of Shashemene. Apparently Luciano was pretty darned impressed with the resulting clip. Sorry for the low quality–I can’t seem to find a better version (or one that has better sync), as this one seems dragged from one of the ubiquitous video cds slap dashed together to sell at music shops across Ethiopia. The actual video was made a while ago by Aida Ashenafi, the director responsible for the incredible Guzo, a film that documented what happened when two Addis Ababa city kids take a trip to the countryside to see what it’s like to live far from urban conveniences. The Simple Life this aint. You can get an idea of the film from this clip, but it’s a shame the whole thing isn’t online. And after, if you want to listen to more Haile Roots when you’re done, check here and here.